The first ever game I got for my Gameboy was Tetris, one with which nearly all of you will be familiar. A game that saw you stacking shaped blocks together to make lines that would disappear when done correctly, it was simple but addictive fun. Weird Beard Games has now brought us Tricky Towers, which has taken aspects of the original Tetris game and turned it into something new, where you must build towers from those shaped blocks.
Race, Survival and Puzzle are the three game modes
As is often the case with these kind of games, Tricky Towers has no story or plotline. Whilst it's often nice to have at least some kind of reason as to why you are doing something, the game does just fine without. It also allows you to jump straight into whichever mode you choose straight from the off and there is enough variety in the modes to keep you entertained for at least a short while. There is single player, local multiplayer and online multiplayer all on offer, although the online is fairly sparse, which is a shame as time spent there is enjoyable.
Whether you are playing alone or with friends, the aim of the game remains largely the same. You must use falling Tetris-style blocks to create a tower, but how you go about managing this tower depends on which game mode you are playing. In Race mode, your simple aim is to build your tower high enough so that it reaches a chequered flag. This is the easiest of the modes as you can take it largely at your own pace and it feels less stress inducing than the other two modes. Survival mode sees the AI giving you a set number of blocks with which to make your tower. Dropping a block will cause you to lose a life (of which you only have three). On top of this, the AI will use different spells in order to mess with the falling blocks, causing them to grow bigger, turn into fragile glass or lock in position. Bringing in spells makes the game a whole lot trickier, but they can be used for your benefit on certain modes too.
You have light spells that will help you and dark spells that will cause something bad to happen to your opponent. Unfortunately, none of the spells have any explanation as to what they do, so it's simply a case of trying it out and hoping for the best. Some kind of key, or a little pop up the first time you picked up a spell, would have been helpful, but you will figure them all out eventually. Their usefulness varies, with some of the better ones reinforcing a block in your tower or causing your opponents bricks to speed up, making them more likely to make a mistake. Obviously, they can also use the spells on you however they see fit, so they add an air of uncertainty while playing as to what might happen next, and force you to adapt.
More people means more chance of spells
The final mode is Puzzle, which sounds like it might be easy but can end up being the hardest of the three modes. There's a laser line above which you cannot build your tower and you must think creatively in order to stack a certain number of bricks below this lasered line. Crossing it means game over and dropping a brick pushes your tower even closer to the laser, meaning there are obstacles at every turn in this mode. You sometimes have to think outside of the box in this mode. This is encouraging and offers a change from the other gameplay, but often ends up being a little hard and frustrating when you can't seem to stack the bricks quite right.
If you're playing alone, you have the choice of endless mode or trials. Endless is self explanatory with you picking any of the gaming modes and seeing how long you can last. Endless also has leaderboards for weekly and monthly scores, so you can test your skills against other people, even if you never manage to play anyone in online multiplayer. The trials, however, are more interesting and a lot harder depending on how far through them you get. There are five different levels of difficulty, including apprentice, pro and master, with 10 trials in each level. These could be a race, survival or puzzle trial, which will task you to complete it without failing. They begin fairly easily and pick up in difficulty quite soon after, so they offer a decent challenge to complete them all.
What seems to be more of a challenge, though, was simply getting the bricks where you want them to go. A trajectory beam shows you where the block will land, giving you a chance to rotate it or speed it up. Even with this, it was a struggle to land the block where it was wanted on multiple occasions. The distance between where the block falls and where it will land means it is hard to be accurate and missing one block can cause a domino effect on your poor tower. On top of this, the nudging mechanic that some games have had is present here too, but this seemed even more hit and miss. Plenty of times a brick hit the tower and went flying off into the sea instead of the little slot that was saved for it.
Trust your nudging skills on that high tower, I dare you
On the plus side of things, the game has a cute and charming look with bright colours and cartoon characters everywhere. You can even change your character's appearance (or spend money on additional character packs) and the look of your blocks with a Christmas and Easter theme. Of course, all of these are superficial and have no bearing on the actual gameplay, but it is nice to be able to make those changes if you so wish. The main characters are all witches and wizards to fit in with having spells in the game, and this is set perfectly with some spooky sounding music tracks to which you might find yourself bobbing along as you play.
In terms of achievements, there are 29 to earn and you will have to work hard to earn most of them. Completing and unlocking the various trials will earn you a number of achievements, with some of them having special objectives tied to them. The online achievements, including winning a cup and taking part in all the various modes, will take a while if you are waiting to find a partner, but less time if you boost them. There's also a few miscellaneous achievements thrown in too, so completing the game will be quite an impressive feat, probably requiring you to spend more time with the game that you'd want.
SummaryTricky Towers is game that strikes you as simple from the outside, but once you start playing you realise it's actually quite hard to master. The game is enjoyable and addictive both online and offline, with a good choice of modes to play either against others or on your own. Unfortunately building towers isn't always easy to do as the trajectory beam doesn't always seem to be accurate enough and you have no idea what your spells do until you actually try and use them. Overall, the game is fun for a short time, but it's never anything on which you are going to spend a huge amount of time.
- Simple but addictive gameplay
- Multiplayer game modes are enjoyable
- Nice choice of modes and trials
- No explanation for what spells do
- Not always obvious where bricks will land, even with beam
- Have to be very accurate with the nudge mechanic
EthicsThe reviewer spent approximately 6 hours stacking some bricks and dropping a whole lot more, unlocking 12 of the game's 29 achievements. A download code for the game was provided for the purpose of this review.
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